lumber dimensions 2x4s are not actually 2 inches by 4 inches. when the board is first rough sawn from the log, it is a true 2x4, but the drying process and planing of the board reduce it to the finished 1.5x3.5 size.
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usually, there is 1/2 inch difference in measurements over 2 inches and 1/4 inch in measurements less than 2 inches. when the ' inch symbol is used is lumber measurements it indicates that you are referring to the actual size. this symbol is omitted when referring to the nominal size.
to calculate how many linear feet of decking you'll need, use this table and multiply the factor times how many square footage you have in hundreds. for example, if you have 800 square feet of decking and want to use 5/4x4 cedar, multiply 325 from the table by 8 of hundreds to get 2,600 linear feet of decking.
5/4 x 4 cedar decking boards are 1' thick -- 5 x 1/4' = 1 1/4', the 1/4' is removed in surfacing leaving 1' thick. width varies between 3 1/2' - 3 3/4' depending upon the mill. these certainly are available, but perhaps not in all regions. 3/4' thick indicates a 1' board, finished 2 sides.
the old standard of calling this board a 2 x 4 still remains, even though in today's lumber practices, the board has never been 2 x 4 inches in size. the actual vs. nominal sizes for common sizes of dimension lumber:
it also addresses the shrinkage and expansion of the boards that is caused by less or more humidity. actual sizes can vary depending on where the wood is stored and installed due to the expansion and contraction of natural wood.